Born and raised in Muswellbrook, in the heart of the NSW coal fields I was given an apprenticeship with a local coal mine as a Plant Mechanic, following this I worked for many OEM’s and local small companies gaining a wide variety of experience and knowledge in mining and construction. After around ten years I was presented with an opportunity to start my own business contracting to a large OEM at a local coal mine, and in 2006 Hunter Plant Mechanics was founded.

Soon after I had expanded my client base to include some local earthmoving business, it was while working for one of these clients that another opportunity arose. The problem was with a small excavator purchased at auction by the client with a defective engine and getting it into our workshop. The solution was a mobile trolley with hydraulic jacks to go under the excavator; this planted the seed for a larger design for mining use. Through the research stage of this concept it was established that the hydraulic lift system would have to be a combination of a jack and stand in order to comply with both Australian standards for working on elevated equipment.

This posed a new and more difficult challenge, As the mobile unit would need four jack/stands, one on each corner, and be able to work on unlevel surfaces and be in a stand condition at all times, A threaded mechanical stand option seemed to be the only way. With no feasible option on the market at the time, work began on designing a jack/stand where the hydraulics done the lift and lowering and a threaded mechanism supplied the stand portion, allowing the jack/stand to be in a constant state of mechanical lock through out the majority of its entire stroke.

Other opportunities for this innovative technology became apparent and with a patent applied for, we started on an eight tonne “proof of concept” model for an on highway truck. With a design engineer, manufacturer and operating system supplier chosen, the unit was quickly assembled and tested, with only minor teething problems the unit was a success.

Work quickly started on a design 100 tonne model for off highway trucks for the mining industry, with my experience in this field it was clear that their was a need for this technology especially when working on suspension components where the need for accuracy to align components together with 1mm accuracy, No other jacks on the market at the time could do this, hence fitters were working under elevated loads supported by hydraulic jacks only, non compliant with safe work standards. A design was conceived and taken to a leading company in the field to perform a FEA of the design, (a computer programme to identify weak or stress points in the design under load). This expensive process identified yet another challenge, “side loading”, due to the fixed base of the jack stand to the concrete, as the jack extended  and the vehicle lifted and pivoted on its other axis, the top contact point of the jack moves away from the jack centre, this provides stress, on the piston and bore, as well as on the gland and rod of the hydraulic jack, with the option on extensions, this became a significant issue and would limit the life expectancy of the jack, again with my experience in the field, it was known that other manufacturers jacks were failing due to this “side loading” and the repairs were commonly timely and expensive.

Another solution was needed, with the symptoms understood, the cause was identified and addressed, we needed a pivoting base, with another patent applied for, changed design and another revision to the FEA, and the problem was solved.

Finally a Jack/stand for the mining industry with two significant points of difference, a threaded stand or lock mechanism which makes it more accurate and safer as it can be in a constant state of mechanical lock. A market first pivoting base to reduce component stress, along with a design where all moving parts are encased and sealed from corrosion therefore increases life expectancy and lowers life cycle cost. The Jack/stand also has a number of features which provides “ease of use” and better “reliability”.

If you relate to these issues or want to know more on how our Jack/stands will keep your site compliant to all Australian standards whilst lowering your lifecycle cost of your fleet of jack/stands,  please contact us at Hunter Plant Mechanics via our website, Facebook or call Phil on 0439 436 830.

Top photo: Proto type for Brenton 002